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11 October2009

Malaysia launches campaign on palm oil

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Malaysia is stepping up its campaign to fight misinformation about palm oil and timber products in the United States via a series of forums in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington DC from October 3 to 11, led by Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Malaysia’s state news agencyBernama reported.

“We are greatly concerned by the campaigns targeting the palm oil industry. These ... can be biased leading to distorted conclusions about the environmental damage due to palm oil cultivation.

“There is definitely a concerted non-governmental organisation flavour to these accusations that paint a bleak scenario on the sustainability of the palm oil industry,” he said in his keynote address at the Roundtable Forum on Sustainable Development of Palm Oil on Thursday.

He pointed to the unfair calculation of carbon emissions for palm oil based on comparisons with carbon stocks of the pristine rain forests as the starting point.

Dompok said voluntary measures had been taken by the palm oil industry to obtain certification under the watchful eye of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

In an interview, Dompok said 157,000ha was planted with oil palm that met with the criteria set by the roundtable, which was expected to increase to 2 million ha over the next few years.

He said his ministry, through the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), initiated the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund dedicated towards studies, efforts and initiatives in conserving wildlife and the environment.

“We have established that there is a highly viable population of orang utan in the wild, despite the palm oil industry,” said Dompok, referring to a survey conducted in Sabah.

Malaysia, one of the biggest producers and exporters of palm oil in the world, produced 17.7 million tonnes of palm oil last year.

Of this, 15 million tonnes were exported to more than 150 countries worldwide, reflecting buyers’ recognition of Malaysia as a reliable supplier of palm oil, he said.

MPOC chairman Lee Yeow Chor, in addressing the criticisms made against the palm oil industry, said the Government and private sector were serious about protecting the environment while mindful of the three Ps – People, Planet and Profit.


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